A lot of fun, but less so if an overdeveloped sense of reader-duty won’t let you pass by the plotstopping diatribes that...


Longterm hospital patients or transcontinental Greyhound riders might happily kill time trudging through Robbins’s lectures on every hackneyed social evil from advertising to dogmatism. Everyone else, skip over the pageslong polemics, and enjoy a whimsical tall tale of a potsmoking, teenagershagging CIA agent who travels the globe in hopes of shaking a South American shaman’s curse.

A trip up the Amazon to repatriate his grandmother’s parrot finds the Zenmeditating spymaster Switters peacepiping with a jungledwelling guru who, in exchange for a drugtripcumglimpseofdivine truth, exacts a price: Switters's feet must never again touch the ground, lest he be struck instantly dead. Any doubt in the curse’s authenticity bites the dust when his acquaintance, similarly cursed to die upon touching another man’s penis, keels over the moment he gingerly prods, as a test, Switters’s purposefully exposed member. Switters, taking no chances, rolls himself back to the US in a wheelchair, determined not to allow his feet on the ground until the curse is undone. Temporarily distracted from his predicament by lust for his 16yearold stepsister, he solicitously assists with her school paper on the prophecies of the Lady of Fatima and then, through a series of amusing, unbelievable plot twists, ends up in a convent of excommunicated Catholic nuns in the Syrian desert where the Lady’s prophecies are actually kept. Switters now finds himself in requited yet unconsummated love with one of the chaste, and arbitrating the convent's potentially lifethreatening dispute with the Vatican. One way or another, all is resolved—from curse to pedophilic crush to Vatican standoff—when Switters’s feet finally do touch the ground again.

A lot of fun, but less so if an overdeveloped sense of reader-duty won’t let you pass by the plotstopping diatribes that have become Robbins’s habit (Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, 1994, etc.). (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 9, 2000

ISBN: 0-553-10775-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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